Dana Reeve, 1961-2006

By: 23 Newsroom
By: 23 Newsroom

Dedicated mother, tireless crusader for victims of paralysis, that's how many are remembering Dana Reeve.

She died of lung cancer at age 44. She's the widow of Christopher Reeve, the man made famous playing "Superman." He was paralyzed after a horse-riding accident in 1995 and died in 2004. She leaves behind a 13-year-old son and two grown step children.

And despite being a healthy, life-long non-smoker, Dana Reeve was diagnosed with lung cancer in August of 2005.

It's the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. And medical statistics show nearly 60-percent of patients with lung cancer, die within one year. Twice as many women die of lung cancer than breast cancer. And 20-percent of female lung cancer patients are non-smokers. And the problem for doctors is, they have a hard enough time screening smokers for lung cancer, so how do they screen non-smokers?

"We have to figure out why non-smokers develop lung cancer, are they more susceptible? Is there underlying genetic susceptibility. Once we can figure that out, then we can potentially have a test that could say, this individual doesn't smoke, possibly has this profile that has to be followed closely," says Dr. Harvey Pass of the NYU Cancer Institute

Dr. Pass also says combining those profiles with family history could also provide insight for doctors.


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